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Kerala Says Sudden Release of Water from Mullaperiyar Dam by Tamil Nadu Chief Cause of Floods

The Kerala government also pointed out how Tamil Nadu government repeatedly rejected its request to reduce water level in the dam from 142 feet to 139 feet.


Updated:August 23, 2018, 10:31 PM IST
Kerala Says Sudden Release of Water from Mullaperiyar Dam by Tamil Nadu Chief Cause of Floods
The Mullaperiyar Dam is located on the Western Ghats near Thekkady in Idukki district of Kerala on the Periyar river.

New Delhi: Kerala has placed the blame of the massive floods that have claimed the lives of 373 people on the shoulders of the Tamil Nadu government and its refusal to lower the water level in the Mullaperiyar dam.

In an affidavit filed in the Supreme Court on Thursday, the Pinarayi Vijayan government said the sudden release of water from the Mullaperiyar dam was the chief cause of the deadly deluge.

The government also pointed out how Tamil Nadu government repeatedly rejected its request to reduce water level in the dam from 142 feet to 139 feet.

Although the dam is located in Kerala, it serves and is operated by Tamil Nadu, and Kerala has for long been demanding de-commissioning of the dam which has over the years developed leaks.

On account of the huge rains that hit Idukki, the sluice gates of the dam were opened after the water level touched 142 feet mark on August 15.

The affidavit, accessed by News18, states that the Kerala government was managing the situation by letting a major portion of flood waters escape into the sea. “This was done by implementing strict operational control over the spill of the two largest reservoir systems in Idukki and Idamalayar,” it said.

It added, “The sudden release from Mullaperiyar Dam, which is the third largest reservoir in the Periyar basin, forced the Kerala government to release more water from Idukki reservoir, which is one of the main causes of the deluge.”

Kerala Rainfall - August 2018

The state government said that to avoid a repeat of such situations, the Supervisory Committee be headed by the chairman of the Central Water Commission with secretaries of both the states as members. This panel should be empowered to take decisions by a majority opinion regarding operations during flood or any similar crisis, it said.

The Kerala government also sought the constitution of a Management committee to manage the day-to-day operations of the Mullaperiyar Dam. “We propose that this committee be headed by a Chief Engineer/Superintending Engineer of the CWC with both Chief Engineers/Superintending Engineers of the two states,” the state government said.

The affidavit was filed in pursuance to August 18 direction of the apex court which had asked the Kerala Chief Secretary to show the steps they have been taken to meet the needs of disaster management, rescue operations and rehabilitation.

The Tamil Nadu government, which has maintained that a Supreme Court directive in May 2014 allows the state to increase the water level to 142 feet, will present defence of its operation of the dam on Friday.

The Vijayan government itself has been accused of not handling opening of dams correctly, with Congress-led UDF Opposition and BJP blaming it for a "man-made disaster".

Leader of Opposition in Kerala Assembly Ramesh Chennithala demanded a judicial probe into the circumstances that led to opening of shutters of 40-odd dams at a time in the state.

"The government had no idea which areas would be submerged when nine dams across the Pamba river, 11 dams in the Periyar in Idukki and Ernakulam districts and six across Chalakudy river in Thrissur were opened," he said.

Though there was an increase of 41.44 per cent rainfall this time, the flood situation worsened not because of the downpour, but due to the opening of shutters of 44 dams at a time without giving prior warning, the Congress leader alleged.

It was a man-made disaster," Chennithala said. Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) state president P S Sreedharan Pillai also blamed the Pinarayi Vijayan government for the deluge and said there was "lack of foresight" on part of the state.

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| Edited by: Aakarshuk Sarna
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